About Sue Diamond

Sue Diamond, M.A., is the Founder and Clinical Director of the Good Life Therapy Centre which focuses on helping couples and individuals create loving relationships in the aftermath of addiction and relationship trauma.
If you would like help, please call our office to set up a time to meet with one of our outstanding therapists @ 604-682-1484 or Click Here to Contact Us.

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3 Steps Towards An Addiction Free Life

 

Despite its negative consequences, most people initially start to use drugs and/or alcohol to relax or to escape a painful reality, but it can quickly turn into an addiction that changes the personality and makes the struggle to cope with real problems harder.

Those who have lived with it, know that addiction is the farthest thing from being free; it pulls you in and makes you believe that you can’t live without certain things. The good news is, freedom from these addicting substances/behaviours that are taking over your life and separating you from loved ones IS possible.

Overcoming addiction can seem like a daunting task, but these steps can help you start working toward an alcohol-free or drug-free life today:

1. Make a Plan

Being inconsistent about your plans to quit drinking alcohol or taking drugs or thinking you can somehow manage it when you cannot will only make it more difficult to stop. Make a decision to get clean, set a date, and develop a plan. Many believe that “hitting bottom” is a spontaneous event but that is not necessarily true.  Most addicts/alcoholics have thought a lot about stopping but can’t control the urges to continue their use.  Surrendering to the fact that you are beat – and knowing that it’s not your fault, can turn your thoughts about stopping into a positive reality. Preparing to quit within the next couple of weeks enables you to be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for the big changes.

2. Write Down Everything

Write down your commitment to quitting and cite solid reasons that are more important than taking the substances you are addicted to. Make a list of all the positive changes that will take place in your life as well as all the damaging effects of your addiction. This will give you a clearer picture of how things will improve once you’ve removed your bad habits. Taking time to explore deeply the benefits for you and your loved ones of being free from your addiction can increase your motivation to strive to be your best self.  Weighing that against the harsh reality of continuing down the path of destruction (addiction always gets worse – never better), can make your choice much clearer.

Having a list will also help explain your thoughts and feelings once you’ve sought addiction counselling.  Never try to do this alone – it will set you up for failure.  The more you surround yourself with understanding people, some of whom have been there themselves, the more likely you are to succeed. They will become your ‘safety net’ to catch you if you stumble and fall.

3. Find Support

Finding professional and personal support can make a big difference in your fight against addiction. Having a consistent support system will keep you encouraged and motivated. Therapists that provide addiction counselling in Vancouver, such as The Good Life Therapy Centre, can provide a welcoming environment where you can explore your addiction triggers, determine your goals for recovery and engage in a process to continuously decrease your addictive habit. 

You will be shown how to establish your own self-care plan, clearing your home of addictive substances and recognizing and avoiding enablers. In the end, only you can free yourself from addiction so addiction counselling is a collaborative process that involves you every step of the way.

As you stabilize in your recovery, you can work through any underlying traumas and/or losses that make you vulnerable to relapse, thereby strengthening your foundation for the future.  And lastly, relationship counselling will provide security to your marriage throughout the process of recovery and help you create and acquire the love you are longing for with your partner.

If you or someone you know or love is struggling with addiction, trauma or relationship problems don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are here for you.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all the best,

7

Source: “12 Ways to Beat Addiction”, Psychcentral.com

Did You Know… When It Comes To Couples Therapy, Timing Matters – Part 2

 

On our last post, we touched on the fact many couples wait until after they are married or until their relationship is falling apart to seek help. In fact, according to Dr. John Gottman, many couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before they seek help.

Marriage counselling can be an asset to most couples, especially very early on in your relationship.

For those wondering if they should be seeking help, but are not ready to reach out to a professional yet, we recommended spending time asking each other some important questions from Eleanor Standford’s ’13 Questions To Ask Before Getting Married’ (as published in The New York Times on March 24, 2016).

We hope you enjoyed asking each other the first three questions and finding more about each other.

And now, here are the last 10: 

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4. How important is religion? How will we celebrate religious holidays, if at all?

If two people come from different religious backgrounds, is each going to pursue his or her own religious affiliation? Dr. Scuka has worked with couples on encouraging honest discussion around this issue as the executive director of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement. What is more, spouses are especially likely to experience conflict over religious traditions when children are added to the mix, according to Dr. Wilcox. If the couple decide to have children, they must ask how thechildren’s religious education will be handled. It is better to have a plan, he said.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-BKJD-slide 5. Is my debt your debt? Would you be willing to bail me out?

It’s important to know how your partner feels about financial self-sufficiency and whether he or she expects you to keep your resources separate, said Frederick Hertz, a divorce lawyer. Disclosing debts is very important. Equally, if there is a serious discrepancy between your incomeand your partner’s, Dr. Scuka recommended creating a basic budget according to proportional incomes. Many couples fail to discuss sharing finances, though it is crucial, he said.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-FDIR-slide 6. What’s the most you would be willing to spend on a car, a couch, shoes?

Couples should make sure they are on the same page in terms of financial caution or recklessness. Buying a car is a great indicator, according to Mr. Hertz. Couples can also frame this question around what they spend reckless amounts of money on, he said.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-9X0J-slide 7. Can you deal with my doing things without you?

Going into marriage, many people hope to keep their autonomy in certain areas of their life at the same time they are building a partnership with their spouse, according to Seth Eisenberg, the president of Pairs (Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills). This means they may be unwilling to share hobbies or friends, and this can lead to tension and feelings of rejection if it isn’t discussed. Couples may also have different expectations as to what “privacy” means, added Dr. Klein, and that should be discussed, too. Dr. Wilcox suggested asking your partner when he or shemost needs to be alone.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-P39A-slide8. Do welike each other’s parents?

As long as you and your partner present a united front, having a bad relationship with your in-laws can be manageable, Dr. Scuka said. But if a spouse is not willing to address the issue with his or her parents, it can bode very poorly for the long-term health of the relationship, he said. At the same time, Dr. Pearson said, considering the strengths and weaknesses of your parents can illuminate future patterns of attachment or distancing in your own relationship.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-9S4X-slide 9. How important is sex to you?

Couples today expect to remain sexually excited by their spouse, anexpectation that did not exist in the past, according to Mr. Eisenberg. A healthy relationship will include discussion of what partners enjoy about sex as well as how often they expect to have it, Dr. Klein said. If people are looking to experience different things through sex — pleasure versus feeling young, for example — some negotiation may be required to ensure both partners remain satisfied.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-QB21-slide 10. How far should we take flirting with other people? Is watching pornography O.K.?

Dr. Klein said couples should discuss their attitudes about pornography,flirting and expectations for sexual exclusivity. A couple’s agreement on behavior in this area can, and most likely will, change down the line, he said, but it is good to set the tone early on so both partners are comfortable discussing it. Ideally, sexual exclusivity should be talked about in the same way as other day-to-day concerns, so that problems can be dealt withbefore a partner becomes angry, he said. Dr. Pearson suggested asking your partner outright for his or her views on pornography. Couples are often too scared to ask about this early in the relationship, but he has frequently seen it become a point of tension down the line, he said.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-W10I-slide11. Do you know all the ways I say “I love you”?

Gary Chapman’s 1992 book, “The 5 Love Languages,” introduced this means of categorizing expressions of love to strengthen a marriage. Ms. Martinez hands her premarriage clients a list of the five love languages: affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. She asks them to mark their primary and secondary languages and what they think is their partner’s, and discuss them. Mr. Eisenberg said that a couple needs to work out how to nurture the relationship, in a way specific to them.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-0Y0K-slide 12. What do you admire about me, and what are your pet peeves?

Can you imagine the challenges ever outweighing the admiration? If so, what would you do? Anne Klaeysen, a leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, said that couples rarely consider that second question. Ideally, marriage is a life commitment, she said, and it’s not enough to just “click together,” as many couples describe their relationship. A marriage must go deeper than that original “click.”

24Marriage-Questions-slide-I769-slide

13. How do you see us 10 years from now?

Keeping the answer to this question in mind can help a couple deal with current conflict as they work toward their ultimate relationship goals, according to Mr. Eisenberg.

Dr. Wilcox said this discussion could also be an opportunity to raise the question of whether each partner will consider divorce if the relationship deteriorates, or whether they expect marriage to be for life, come what may.

Let us know what you discover after discussing the last questions. We look forward to know what you think!

As always, if you or anyone you know is struggling in their relationship and are ready to take action towards transforming pain and discomfort into joyful curiosity, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.

Wishing you all the best,

7

References: https://www.gottman.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/23/fashion/weddings/marriage-questions.html?_r=0

Illustrations:
Julia Rottman for The New York Times

Did You Know… When It Comes To Couples Therapy, Timing Matters

In my years of practice as a couple’s therapist, I’ve noticed many couples wait until after they are married or until their relationship is falling apart to seek help. This is especially true among younger couples. For many, the notion that they should seek professional help is perceived as something only individuals who have been married for a considerable number of years should pursue.

Recent findings from Dr. John Gottman support what I’ve seen in my years of practice: many couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before they seek help.

Although there is always hope if both parties are willing to make things work, the amount of resentment and hurt accumulated over the years of waiting can be that much more difficult to navigate  during therapy.

So my message to anyone in a relationship, is that you are never too young and it’s never too early to seek help. In fact, when it comes to couples therapy, the earlier you seek help, the better.

Imagine waiting until your car completely breaks down before taking it to the mechanic. A lot of damage can be avoided if we take it for tune ups as soon as we see signs something is not working properly.

If you are wondering if you should be seeking help, but are not ready to reach out to a professional yet, we recommend you spend time asking each other some important questions.  We found Eleanor Standford’s ’13 Questions To Ask Before Getting Married’ (as published in The New York Times on March 24, 2016) a wonderful resource. Even if you are not planning on getting married, these questions are a great way to discover how compatible you and your partner are.

Here are the first three questions:

24Marriage-Questions-slide-H20Z-slide

1. Did your family throw plates, calmly discuss issues or silently shut down when disagreements arose?

A relationship’s success is based on how differences are dealt with, said Peter Pearson, a founder of the Couples Institute. As we are all shaped by our family’s dynamic, he said, this question will give you insight into whether your partner will come to mimic the conflict resolution patterns of his or her parents or avoid them.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-FRBO-slide

2. Will we have children, and if we do, will you change diapers?

With the question of children, it is important to not just say what you think your partner wants to hear, according to Debbie Martinez, a divorce and relationship coach. Before marrying, couples should honestly discuss if they want children. How many do they want? At what point do they want to have them? And how do they imagine their roles as parents? Talking about birth-control methods before planning a pregnancy is also important, said Marty Klein, a sex and marriage therapist.

 

24Marriage-Questions-slide-4L8C-slide 3. Will our experiences with our exes help or hinder us?

Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, pointed to research his organization has sponsored that indicated that having had many serious relationships can pose a risk for divorce and lower marital quality. (This can be because of a person having more experience with serious breakups and potentially comparing a current partner unfavourably with past ones.) Raising these issues early on can help, Dr. Wilcox said. Dr. Klein said people are “hesitant to explicitly talk about their past” and can feel retroactively jealous or judgmental. “The only real way to have those conversations in an intimate and productive way and loving way is to agree to accept that the other person had a life before the couple,” he said.

Let us know what you discover after discussing the first three questions. We look forward to know what you think!

Stay tuned for our next post, where we will be sharing the last 10 questions.

As always, if you or anyone you know is struggling in their relationship and are ready to take action towards transforming pain and discomfort into joyful curiosity, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.

Wishing you all the best,

 

7

References: https://www.gottman.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/23/fashion/weddings/marriage-questions.html?_r=0

Illustrations:
Julia Rottman for The New York Times

Did You Know… These Two Things Can Save Your Relationship?

 

There’s a lot of talk over the Internet about how to save a relationship that’s on the rocks. However, a study states that struggling couples need only two things: kindness and generosity.

The Gottman Institute in Seattle identified these key factors after studying the vital signs of couples who were asked about their relationship’s health twice—once six years ago, and again more recently. Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of the Gottman Institute and renowned marriage expert, tells reporters:

“There’s a habit of mind that the “Masters” have, which is this: they are scanning the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. “Disasters” are those who are scanning the social environment for their partners’ mistakes.”

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to be “kind” is to show “a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.” Meanwhile, to be “generous” is to be prepared to “give more of something” than expected.

Saving a Relationship

One of the most common causes for relationships to end is the loss of intimacy. Intimacy is developed and sustained through the ongoing acts of kindness and generosity that partners express to one another. If your relationship is lacking intimacy, the good news is that many couples have managed to save their relationship through couple’s counselling. There may, after all, be plenty of other issues that interfere with how you and your partner are able to show love and affection. You may be surprised to learn that many of the difficulties can be addressed and healed.

All couples deserve to have the relationship they are longing for. Although the media often portrays images of relationship breakups and quick ‘move-ons’, we would like to offer a new & hopeful perspective – one that allows you to gain the skills necessary to overcome the normal difficulties that are common in most partnerships, and deepen the love that originally brought you together.

Have you committed an act of kindness to your partner today?

How generous do you feel you are in your relationship?

Do you take your partner for granted or do you find ways to give that are meaningful to him or her?

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think!

If you or anyone you know is struggling in their relationship and are ready to take action towards transforming pain and discomfort into joyful curiosity, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.

(Source: “Relationships Last When Both Partners Have These 2 Traits,” Headlines & Global News, November 11, 2014)

Wishing you all the best,

7

Are You Striving To Be Your Best Self?

 

 

Years ago, I attended a talk by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I’m certain that many of you have heard of him or  even read one of his many books. One that I loved was titled: “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao.” Sadly, Wayne passed away last year, but his rich legacy lives on for many people.

Dr. Dyer’s main message is a familiar one to many of us. It is simply that we are spiritual beings first  – having a human experience, and not human beings first – who are trying to have a spiritual experience. That may sound like semantics at first glance, but it is much deeper than just a rearrangement of words. Wayne talked about the negative impact of early internalized thoughts, which interfere with our knowing this essential truth about ourselves.

I know that much of my life was fuelled on harmful messages acquired in a family environment that was defined by negativity. Negative messages can come in the form of direct statements, but also and more often, as subtle unspoken rules that you must abide by. Some examples of these messages might include, “You’re not good enough.” “No one likes you.” “Who do you think you are?”  or “You’ll never change.” These undermining unconscious messages often come from well-meaning parents and teachers, who are simply passing on what they learned. Unfortunately, if we don’t recognize their toxicity, and work on changing how we think and feel about ourselves and the world, it will keep us from fully realizing all that we truly are.

What I find hopeful is that many more people today are waking up to the fact that we can be the authors of a new generation of beliefs. Our responsibility is to reduce the toxicity that results from believing and perpetuating ideas that destroy happiness. We can make a conscious effort to turn our negative self talk into caring and loving messages. As we decide to live with a more positive orientation, the Flow of Universal Intelligence can more directly guide our lives.

This does not mean suppressing our truth as denial is not conducive to healing. We are reframing and recreating our truth about feelings, thoughts, desires & dreams that flow from a new belief about our inherent worthiness and value.  Real spiritual growth comes when we accept & appreciate who we are – not push it away or judge it as “bad” or “wrong”.  We can rather see it all as an expression of the “Divine.”

So, take a moment to reflect on the following:

Do you believe that spirituality is important in your life? If so, how do you nurture that side of yourself? If not, why not?

Do you make a conscious effort each day to recognize your own worth, the strengths you bring to life and the difference you make (or could make if you applied yourself)?

Do you think that being ‘spiritual’ means life should be ‘easy’ rather than full of problems and challenges that push you to rise up and become more of your ideal self? Do you think that anger can be spiritual?

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And, if you or someone you know or love is struggling with acute negativity – like addiction, trauma or relationship problems don’t hesitate to contact us.  We are here for you.

Wishing you all the best,

7